The 2018 WNBA Season at the first quarter point.

A'ja Wilson

The 2018 WNBA season has now reached the quarter point of the season as a large majority of teams have played 10 or 11 games now. Only Phoenix has played up to 13 games (the most in the WNBA, currently). A month of WNBA games has flown by in this condensed schedule, which has meant craziness around the league. Let’s break it down in terms of what teams have stood out, what players have excelled and those that have not yet so far. There’s still a lot of season left to be played, but at this point, we are starting to see what potential playoff and championship contenders could be.

Team(s) that have stood out:

The Connecticut Sun stood out in the very early part of the season before the schedule as well as injuries caught up to them. They were in first place for the start of the season but now have lost three straight and sit in fourth place overall. The Los Angeles Sparks have been the steadying force and as a result of other teams slipping up, they are now in first place. They’ve been solid and playing to their expectation level as many thought they would still be a top team. The Seattle Storm have been excellent as well and they have played really well under new coach Dan Hughes. Last but not least, is the Phoenix Mercury. Many had the Mercury making the playoffs and possibly a top 4 team, but no one expected this hot start from them. They have won eight straight games, they have the best road record and Diana Taurasi is playing excellent basketball along side Brittney Griner. Diana Taurasi may have a serious case for the WNBA MVP award if the Mercury keep this up.

Players that have stood out:

As mentioned above, Diana Taurasi has stood out early one quarter in the WNBA season, but Natasha Howard has been an excellent addition to the Seattle Storm. She has played well beside Breanna Stewart which has allowed her offensive game to flourish. She’s on track to being a WNBA All Star next month. Chiney Ogwumike has also stood out from the Sun simply because she was injured last season and has performed well so far. If not for her injuries, she would have already been in star form. She’s just that good. Elizabeth Cambage from Dallas also stands out because, despite not playing in the WNBA for many years, she’s become the second best player for the Wings and she’s performed really well for that team.

Team(s) that have not performed well so far

The two teams that have not played well so far are the defending WNBA champion the Minnesota Lynx and the New York Liberty. Prior to the season starting, many thought the Lynx would be the #1 team to beat but so far they have not been that team. As for the New York Liberty, they were thought of being a playoff contender but so far, they have struggled. Even with a healthy lineup, they have not been consistent so far and would miss the playoffs as they sit in ninth place overall.  Both the Liberty and the Lynx can be better than they are right now and they still have three quarters of the WNBA season to prove it.

The 2018 WNBA Rookie Class

ROOKIES!! These WNBA rookies came to play this season. Led by A’ja Wilson, the #1 overall WNBA draft pick, Kelsey Mitchell, Kia Nurse, Ariel Atkins, Victoria Vivians, Myisha Hines Allen, Azura Stevens, Diamond DeShields, Gabby Williams have ALL shown flashes or have had games in which they have stood out so far. These rookies are different from previous recent classes because they have played well or have contributed to their teams in some kind of capacity. The WNBA is in good hands with these rookies as some of them have shown superstar or WNBA All Star potential. Some have shown they can be future great defenders or great starters.

SCHEDULE

The WNBA schedule is a talking point because let’s face it, these condensed schedule is nuts. We are already in Week 5, some teams have been on crazy road trips out West, some teams have played 4 games in 7 days, etc. Also there have been some really bad back to back game schedules. Each team will experience it or already have experienced it. Teams are now starting to lose players due to it which does not help teams in terms of making the playoffs. Thanks a lot, FIBA. It’s all your fault. (On the other hand, it does increase the amount of WNBA games on the schedule, which is a bonus for us, personally speaking)

STAT LEADERS

Point guard / Shooting guard Skylar Diggins-Smith currently leads the WNBA in scoring with 21.9 points per game followed by Breanna Stewart and Tina Charles.

Center Sylvia Fowles leads the way in rebounding with 11.8 rebounds per game followed by Elizabeth Williams and Alyssa Thomas.

Point guard Sue Bird leads the way in assists with 5.9 assists per game followed by Chelsea Gray and Skylar Diggins- Smith

There’s many more categories, but I chose the main three statistics.


 

That wraps up the 2018 WNBA season at the quarter point. There’s still so much to be decided, and we will have much more to discuss when the WNBA reaches at it’s halfway point, so stay tuned for that blog post. (The halfway point — believe it or not, is in two weeks!)

Game #33 San Antonio Silver Stars vs Phoenix Mercury Game Recap

Diana Taurasi shoots over Jayne Appel. Taurasi had 20 points and 10 assists as the Mercury won against the Silver Stars 81-62 at US Airways Arena in Phoenix. Photo courtesy of Barrie Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images

The San Antonio Silver Stars suffered their second straight loss in Phoenix and drop their 4th game in a row. The Stars finsh 4-13 on the road this season and are currently 11-22 on the season.The Mercury win the season series 3-2 against the Silver Stars. Danielle Adams and Shenise Johnson each had 11 points each and Jayne Appel had 10 rebounds. Diana Taurasi had 20 points and 10 assists to led the Mercury.

There’s just not that much to say about this game because the Silver Stars didn’t have anything to play for and the Mercury were just using this game to get better for their playoff run beginning next week. The Phoenix  Mercury started off hot and led 18-8 at one point before the Silver Stars rallied and made it a game 40-31 at half time. In the third quarter, both teams were able to stay close to one another and the Mercury lead by 7 going into the 4th Q. Momentum shifted when the Mercury got hot from 3 and were able to score 15 points easily thanks in large part of the play of Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor who played in her first game against San Antonio this season. Both players were able to feed off from one another and the Silver Stars failed to score a single point in which the Mercury won the game thanks to a 21-0 run in the fourth quarter.  San Antonio now comes home and faces the Atlanta Dream who will be desperate in winning the game so even though the Stars haven’t played well recently, they can end this rough season at home with a win.

The Silver Stars play their last regular season game against the Atlanta Dream tomorrow at home. It’s also Fan Appreciation night, so if you live in San Antonio, come out and enjoy the game!

Game #31 San Antonio Silver Stars vs Phoenix Mercury Game Recap

Diana Taurasi heads to the basket against Jayne Appel and Danielle Adams. The Mercury came out on top 83-80 in Phoenix at the US Airways Arena. Photo courtesy of Barrie Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images

 

I know this game happened more than a week ago, but I just haven’t had time to write the recap all week, so after this recap, I have 2 more recaps to write. The Stars headed into this game with a 2-1 series lead against the Mercury and at that time, still had a shot of making the playoffs.  Unfortunately, they came up just short and the Mercury prevailed and were the last team in the West to clinch the playoffs. The Stars failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Danielle Adams led the way with 26 points for San Antonio while Diana Taurasi had 21 for Phoenix. The Stars and the Mercury also tied the season series at 2 apiece and the Stars fell to 4-12 on the road. My game recap is below, along with notes + observations from the game.

 

Sept 6, 2013

PHOENIX

The San Antonio Silver Stars knew heading into this game that if they didn’t win this game, they would be out of the playoffs for this year. They knew it’d be difficult to stop a dangerous Phoenix team that was on a roll and they knew it would be hard to stop Diana Taurasi who averages 20 points and 6 assists a game. But, that didn’t stop them from trying. The Silver Stars fought and competed but came up short by a final score of 83-80 which ended the Stars streak of 6 consecutive seasons of going to the playoffs. Danielle Adams had 26 points for San Antonio and Jayne Appel had 17 rebounds. The Stars started off slowly but didn’t let the Mercury get ahead and the Mercury led at half time 42-32.  In the third quarter, both teams were able to stay close to an another but the Mercury were ahead after 3 quarters. In the fourth quarter, the Silver Stars battled back and made it a close game thanks to their defense as well as their offense. Danielle Adams  as well as Shenise Johnson who had 14 points. Jayne Appel also played well with 9 points and 17 rebounds. The Stars had a 27-16 run in the final quarter and had a chance to tie the game, but Danielle Adams lost the ball which cost them the game and the playoffs. The Stars lost their second game in a row and fell to 4-12 on the road this season. In a very rough and injury plagued season for the Stars, luck was just not on their side for the 2013 playoffs.

NOTES + OBSERVATIONS

  • This was looking like a Mercury win that they were going to cruise to the finish line but the Stars battled and for that, I have to give them credit. They could have folded and let the Mercury win, but they didn’t and competed with a shot to win the game.
  • I hate West Coast games. I live in the East Coast, so it means that I have to stay up at 10 pm to watch and finish the game around 12 am(in the morning). After a grueling long day, the last thing I want to do is stay up even later. But, I’m glad I did for this one. The Stars made it interesting, even with the announcing crew that was commentating for the Phoenix Mercury.
  • The Stars got solid performances from Danielle Adams, Jayne Appel, Shenise Johnson and Jia Perkins and still lost. I do think that if Danielle Robinson played in this game, it would’ve made a difference as the Mercury don’t have anyone on their roster who can stop Danielle Robinson’s ability to get into the paint.
  • I still want to see Brittney Griner dunk! Even though she probably won’t considering she’s had knee injuries this season.

Game #31 San Antonio Silver Stars vs Phoenix Mercury Game Day Preview

The countdown is on! The Silver Stars are 4 games away from ending their injury riddled season with injuries to Sophia Young(ACL), Becky Hammon(ACL), Davellyn Whyte(Achilles) and missed games & time from Jayne Appel and Danielle Robinson. There is still no word on whether or not Danielle Robinson will play in this game, but it is still doubtful to this point. The Silver Stars have signed 3 new players this season in Cathrine Kraayeveld, Chelsea Poppens and now new point guard Chelsea Hopkins. She is in Phoenix with the rest of the team and will play in the game. The Silver Stars are in Phoenix tonight as they face a well rested team. The Stars have really struggled on the road this season and are 4-11 on the road. The Stars after tonight will only have 1 road game left for the season. The Stars are 2-1 against Phoenix this season with 2 more games left to play after tonight.

Starting Lineups for the Silver Stars

G – Jia Perkins

G/F – Shameka Christon

F – Shenise Johnson

F – Danielle Adams

C – Jayne Appel

Starting Lineups for the Phoenix Mercury

G – Diana Taurasi

G – Brianna Gilbreath

G/F – Dewanna Bonner

PF – Candice Dupree

C – Brittney Griner

THREE KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Stop penetration – The Mercury will be ready for this game as they need a win tonight to clinch the playoffs and officially eliminate the Silver Stars from post season. The Mercury will look to push and find ways to score from the paint so the Stars need to make sure they keep the Mercury guards out of the lane and make it difficult for their power forwards and centers to score.

2. Just score – The Silver Stars will need to bring it scoring wise in order to keep up with the Mercury. If they can’t score, they won’t win. Its that simple.

3. No X Factor – The Stars will have trouble winning if they can’t contain any of the Mercury’s other players. It’s already a difficult game to win considering the circumstances of both teams and it will become that much harder to steal a road game if the other players step up.

The game will be on LiveAccess and will tip off at 7 pm local time, 9 pm CT and 10 pm EST.

Game #24 Phoenix Mercury vs San Antonio Silver Stars Game Day Recap

Danielle Robinson
Danielle Robinson had 20 points and 8 assists as the Silver Stars won 88-82 against the Phoenix Mercury on Breast Cancer Awareness Night at the AT&T Center. Photo courtesy of Daniel Clarke Evans

Oops. I completely forgot to do the game recap for this game on Sunday and got way too busy on Monday to do it. But, without any further delay, below is my version of the game that was played on Saturday and my usual notes & observations from the game are below that.

GAME RECAP

San Antonio

The San Antonio Silver Stars had lost a previously winnable game against the Seattle Storm slip away last weekend and didn’t want a repeat against the Phoenix Mercury. The Silver Stars put on their best offensive performance of the season with 88 points and 42% from the field and three point land and 90% from the FT line. Danielle Adams who joined the 1000 point club was the leading scorer along with Danielle Robinson who also had 8 assists. Jia Perkins had 18 points and Shenise Johnson added 15. The Silver Stars struggled in the opening minutes of the game but were able to quickly adjust and led at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Silver Stars were able to be effective offensively and were beginning to run away with the game when the Phoenix Mercury began to strike back and made it a game with San Antonio on top 45-37 at halftime. The third quarter featured runs from both teams and at one point the Mercury were within striking distance at 5 but could never close the game and San Antonio was able to take advantage going into the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, the Silver Stars managed to keep the Mercury from stealing the game and won the game by a final score of 88-82. 10,096 people were at the AT&T Center to catch a glimpse of the historical pink court and some came for the Mercury’s Brittney Griner who was playing in her last Texas appearance this season. The Silver Stars are now .500 at home and are 2-1 in the 5 game series against Phoenix. The Silver Stars play the final two games of the series in Phoenix later this season. The Silver Stars next oppenent is Indiana who they face Wednesday on the road.

Notes + Observations

  • Congrats to Cathrine Kraayeveld and Danielle Adams on reaching 1000 points and 1000 rebounds respectively! It’s an amazing accomplishment to show for what they have achieved in this league so far.
  • The Silver Stars managed to neutralize Brittney Griner by double teaming her and keeping her out of her comfort zone. I felt that Jayne Appel did a reasonable job of defending her as Griner was only limited to 6 points.  
  • The best offensive performance of the season by the Silver Stars. They shot really well from the three point land and from the field. It was just nice to see them shooting well after many games of sub par shooting and struggling to score in other games.
  • When the Silver Stars have some time off to prepare for their next opponent, they do well. When they don’t scout and prepare for their next opponent, they struggle. Time really is the essence for the Silver Stars. They play like a competitive playoff team when rested as compared to a struggling, non competitive team on either a day or no days rest.
  • Shenise Johnson is officially the Silver Stars important player. When she plays well, the team wins. When she struggles, the team often struggles to find its balance.  It used to be Jayne Appel, but now that she’s improving every day not only defensively, but offensively as well, she’s found her footing and can be counted or relied upon to play well in every single game, rather than one game here or two games from now, etc.
  • The pink court looks weird from TV and liveaccess point of view. It probably looked nice in person but it didn’t look that aesthetically pleasing on my computer screen.
  • Chelsea Poppens played in this game. I have no thoughts on her yet because it’s just too early and considering this is my first time watching her play, she didn’t play enough to make an impression as to what kind of player she will be.
  • There’s just only 11 games left this season. The Stars are 2 games behind the fourth place Seattle Storm and will play them this week. They will need both victories against the Storm other wise Seattle will make the playoffs.

Game #24 Phoenix Mercury vs San Antonio Silver Stars Game Day Preview

The Silver Stars are FINALLY back in action after 5 days. The Silver Stars are facing the Phoenix Mercury on a historic pink court for Breast Cancer Awareness week throughout the league. The Silver Stars are looking to get back on track after splitting the two game road stand with Seattle. The Silver Stars are 5-6 at home this season and need every game from now on out to get into the playoffs. The Silver Stars are 1-1 against the Mercury this season. They will play 2 more times after today.

Probable Starting Lineups for the Phoenix Mercury

G – Diana Taurasi

G – Brianna Gilbreath

F – Dewanna Bonner

F – Candice Dupree  or Charde Houston

C – Brittney Griner

Probable Starting Lineups for the Silver Stars

PG – Danielle Robinson

SG – Jia Perkins

F – Shenise Johnson

F/C – Danielle Adams

C – Jayne Appel

THREE KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Make Brittney Griner work – Last time when the Stars and the Mercury met up, Brittney Griner was able to be effective and score easily in the post against the Star defenders. The Silver Stars will need to make Brittney Griner play out of her comfort zone and defend her well enough to ensure she doesn’t have another big night against the Stars.

2. Everyone scores – All of the Silver Stars will need to score and they need to be effective. They will need all of the scoring because it will make it difficult for the Mercury to stop the players when alot of players are playing well.

3. PLAY FOUR FULL QUARTERS – The Silver Stars need to play well in every quarter and every minute. The Silver Stars need to make sure that they don’t have a bad quarter because it will give the Mercury momentum to start rolling towards a road victory.

MILESTONES

*Danielle Adams needs 3 points to reach 1000 points. She will be the 159th player in league history to do so.

*Cathrine Kraayeveld needs 3 rebounds to reach 1000 rebounds. She will be the 70th player in league history to do so.

The game will be on LiveAccess. The game will be at 8 pm EST, 7 pm local time and 5 pm PST.

Game #12 San Antonio Silver Stars vs Phoenix Mercury Game Recap

The San Antonio Silver Stars are back on track.  For just the fourth time this season, they won.  SIX San Antonio players were in double figures and the Silver Stars stole a win from the Phoenix Mercury. Danielle Adams was the team’s high scorer of the afternoon game with 19 points. Jayne Appel had a career night with 13 points (a new career high) and 8 rebounds.

The Silver Stars were ready and poised to play this game. The Phoenix Mercury, on the other hand were not. They were already missing Brittney Griner who did not play because of a knee sprain and Lynetta Kizer who was a game time decision. The Stars were able to avoid having Griner in the game and therefore they were able to score in the paint at will. One of the keys in my game preview for this matchup was to defend Brittney as best as they could. Without her presence, the Silver Stars benefited and the Mercury didn’t.

The Silver Stars matched the Phoenix Mercury point by point in the first quarter. Neither team was defending, and the Silver Stars were playing how the Mercury play — run, shoot, and get out on the open floor.  They were able to find each other with good passes and took good shots. The Silver Stars were able to stay close with the Mercury until the Silver Stars were able to open up their lead at 83-75 to win the game by a final score of 88-80. Diana Taurasi also fouled out of the game with THREE fouls in the fourth quarter. Diana was able to score at ease in the first half and slowed down in the second half. The Silver Stars also got contributions from Delisha Milton Jones who finished with 16 points.

This was a good win for the Silver Stars. There is no doubt. I’m beginning to think Jayne Appel is the Silver Stars most important player on the floor. She’s the Silver Stars best interior defender, she’s a good passer and a good rebounder.  When she plays, the Silver Stars play better defense, overall the offence is crisper, and the Stars often have a good shot of winning the basketball game.

The Silver Stars next game is at home against the much improved Washington Mystics on Friday, June 12.